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LSU Honors Junior Sarah Procopio Awarded Prestigious Truman Scholarship

LSU junior Sarah Procopio, a native of Baton Rouge, La., is among 62 students selected nationally as 2020 Truman Scholars. She is an Ogden Honors College student and Louisiana Service and Leadership, or LASAL, Program Scholar studying political communication in the Manship School of Mass Communication. 

As a Truman Scholar, Procopio will be awarded up to $30,000 for graduate study and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare her for careers in public service leadership. 

“As an aspiring public servant, being able to represent my school and my state in this way is a tremendous honor that reaffirms my commitment to working in government,” Procopio said.  

Procopio worked with Drew Lamonica Arms in LSU’s Office of Fellowship Advising to prepare her application and apply for this scholarship. This year, the Truman Foundation received 773 applications from 316 colleges and universities. Students were chosen based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. 

“I saw Sarah as a potential Truman Scholar from the day I first met her on a recruiting visit to Baton Rouge Magnet High. Her leadership skills and desire to be a public servant are two of the first things I noticed, and she’s really leveraged both the Ogden Honors College and the Manship School to hone her policy chops and demonstrate how much of a change agent she is and will be. She’ll be a phenomenal Truman Scholar,” LSU Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle said.

Procopio credits the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, an integral part of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, for giving her the opportunity to grow as a leader in the public sphere. The Reilly Center’s mission is to generate thoughtful programs, dialogue and research about mass communication and its many faceted relationships with social, economic and political issues. Procopio has engaged in many local, state and national public affairs conversations through Reilly Center events like the annual Breaux Symposium. Procopio served as the lead organizer for the 2018 event titled “Re-envisioning Louisiana: The State We Want to Be In,” which brought together students, political figures and entrepreneurs from across the state to talk about how to halt Louisiana's outmigration problem. 

"Sarah Procopio is a rising star, already with a breadth and depth of experience with public policy and governance,” LSU Manship School Dean Martin Johnson said. “Her recognition as a Truman Scholar underscores her accomplishments and abundant talent for leadership and service."

Inspired by her work with the Reilly Center and through funding she received from the Roger Hadfield Ogden Leaders Program, she created the Louisiana Youth Platform, or LAYP, a group which creates a policy platform of priorities for young adults and presents itself to public officials. This summer, LAYP met with candidates for state offices, legislators and economic development entities to convey their vision of a Louisiana where young people will want to work and raise families. They are now turning conversations into actual bills, one, for example, that will encourage industrial facilities in Louisiana to use treated river water instead of drinkable aquifer water to cool down their machinery.

Procopio’s current focus is on healthcare policy. As a Governor’s Fellow with the Louisiana Department of Health, or LDH, Procopio was instrumental in implementing a policy to install opioid overdose prevention kits in all residence halls in Louisiana, which won the approval of Governor Edwards. She shared her plan to increase education on addiction and overdoses at LSU and to place kits containing life-saving doses of a Naloxone nasal spray in every dorm hall. 

The parents of the LSU student whose death started Procopio’s journey to create more protections against opioid overdoses felt strongly that all Louisiana’s colleges should have those protections and called their state representative, who agreed to sponsor Procopio’s proposal as a bill in the 2020 state legislative session. 

“Working to create a solution that could prevent the kind of pain the Jordans felt after their son’s death has been my most satisfying public service activity and has confirmed my decision to dedicate my career to crafting health policy,” Procopio said. 

Procopio plans to take a year off between her graduate and undergraduate programs to serve in the Louisiana Department of Health to build upon the progress she made during her fellowship in the areas of opioid overdose prevention services. She hopes to pursue a Masters of Public Policy with a concentration in social policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. 

Office of Fellowship Advising 

The Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising was created to assist students in applying for prestigious scholarships and fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, Mitchell, Udall, Truman and Goldwater awards. Students interested in applying for these and other scholarship opportunities or for more information on the office, contact Drew Lamonica Arms, director of fellowship advising, at fellowships@lsu.edu.

Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College 

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.

Manship School of Mass Communication

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: master of mass communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication and dual MMC/law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the No. 1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.